For those of us with colder temperatures, or even snow, winter seems like it arrived a few weeks ago, but according to the U.S Naval Observatory Eqinoxes and Solstices list, winter officially makes its appearance today at 12:47 p.m. Around here, temperatures are moderate with a high today of 62F. However, Wednesday and Thursday are another matter.
I will be taking a walk outdoors today. Want to come along?
We may even get snow the morning of Christmas Eve. I shiver just thinking about it, but it would be lovely to have a white Christmas. I can only remember three white Christmases in my life, so it’s doubtful, but, still, like children, we can dream.
My friend, Tim, of From the Far Away Nearby posted on Facebook today wishing all a Happy Solstice and then wrote that it was probably the oldest celebrated holiday of the season. I’m sure that’s true.
Imagine being a person from antiquity. You live outdoors, or in a cave with only your fire to warm and protect you from the elements and predators. Someone had to keep those home fires burning, and with such long nights, you would cheer the sun’s return and slightly longer days.
Truth told, I’m glad to see those longer days too, even if we still have a lot of winter to go. I’m even happier to celebrate Christmas. Whether you think Christ’s birth was placed on December 25th, because it was nine months after the Annunciation, or to usurp a Roman holiday (Sol Invictus), or because of the Winter Solstice, I believe there’s another reason. For those of us who call ourselves Christians, He is the Light of the World, and today, the 21st is the O Antiphon reflecting that:
“O Oriens (in English meaning “Radiant Dawn” or “Dayspring”):
“O Radiant Dawn, splendor of eternal light, sun of justice: come, shine on those who dwell in darkness and the shadow of death.”
The O Antiphons are sung during the Liturgy of the Hours from December 17-23, and many of them are the basis of Advent hymns like the haunting O Come, O Come Emmuel.
What better teaching tool than to place His birthday during the darkest time of the year?
Whether you celebrate Christmas, the Solstice, Hannukah or Kwanzaa (have I forgotten anyone?), I wish you joy. I also hope you get outside and enjoy the sunshine in this shortest day of the year. I know I will.